Finding Relief From Eczema – Omega-3 DHA

Eczema is an allergen-related medical condition; a “dermatitis” which literally means, “inflamed skin.”  It can be a very frustrating and uncomfortable condition manifested by intense itching, and dry, reddened skin.  Some people may suffer “flare-ups” of the itchy rash in response to allergens, such as foods, pollen, dust or animal dander. For some, coming into contact with rough or coarse materials may cause the skin to become itchy. For others, feeling too hot or too cold or exposure to certain household products like soap or detergent may cause an outbreak. Upper respiratory infections or colds may also be triggers, and lack of sleep and stress may cause the condition to worsen.  Eczema is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person.

There is no cure for eczema, but most people can effectively manage their disease through a combination of potentially helpful strategies.   The goal of treatment is to relieve and prevent itching, which can lead to infection, so lotions and creams are recommended to combat dryness.  Application when the skin is damp, such as after bathing, helps the skin retain moisture. Cold compresses may also be used to relieve itching.  Over-the-counter or prescription creams and ointments containing hydrocortisone are often prescribed to reduce inflammation.  You can also help repair your skin’s layers by topically applying products that contain gamma-linolenic acid, a fatty acid found in evening primrose oil, borage oil, and black currant oil.

If you’re prone to eczema, steer clear of foods that trigger inflammation, such as red meat, fried foods, refined breads and pastas, margarines, and beverages that contain sugar.  Make sure your diet includes foods that help reduce inflammation, including fish, nuts, seeds, and avocados, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and highly beneficial to skin health. Additional daily supplementation with at least 1 gram of combined DHA and EPA may reduce dryness and inflammation.  Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and increase hydration by drinking plenty of water.

A study recently published in the British Journal of Dermatology investigated whether DHA would be effective in decreasing atopic eczema symptoms. The randomized, double-blind, controlled trial recruited 53 patients with atopic eczema aged 18-40 years and were administered either 5.4 g daily of DHA or a placebo for 8 weeks. The DHA patients experienced an 18 percent reduction in symptoms compared to the placebo group. The German researchers concluded “Our data suggests that dietary DHA could be bioactive and might have a beneficial impact on the outcome of atopic eczema.”

Koch C, Dolle S, Metzger M, et al. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation in atopic eczema: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. April 2008.

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One Comment

  1. John February 20, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    Genetics: Although aipotc dermatitis runs in families, the role of genetics remains unclear. It does appear that more than one gene is involved in the development of the disease. Researchers suspect that aipotc dermatitis may be caused by environmental factors acting in people who are genetically predisposed to the disease.Research has helped shed light on the patterns of inheritance of aipotc dermatitis. Studies show that children are at increased risk for developing the disorder if there is a family history of other aipotc disease, such as hay fever or asthma. The risk is significantly higher if both parents have an aipotc disease. In addition, studies of identical twins, who have the exact same genes, show that in an estimated 80 to 90 percent of cases, if one twin has an aipotc disease, the other does also. Fraternal (nonidentical) twins, who have only some genes in common, are no more likely than two other people in the general population to both have an aipotc disease. These findings suggest that genes play an important role in determining who gets the disease.

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